We tried visiting the Giant Forest area of Sequoia National Park on our first day in the park but every parking lot was packed with several cars looping the lots. Up against a prescheduled tour time for our Crystal Cave tour, we decided to save Giant Forest for the next day. Now, we didn’t get up quite as early as we wanted, but still made it back to Giant Forest by 10:00 am and nabbed a parking spot in the lower overflow parking lot. From that lot, we were able to pick up the trail to Beetle Rock.
Beetle Rock and Sunset Rock are bald, flat, granite domes within Giant Forest.
Located just across Generals Highway from Giant Forest Museum, Beetle Rock is the most accessible dome in Sequoia National Park. It is a huge, flat expanse of granite that offers breathtaking 270 degree panoramic views of the surrounding Sierra Nevada foothills. Beetle Rock is the perfect spot for a picnic and a great place for kids to play.
The 0.5 mile Beetle Rock Trail stretches from the lower Giant Forest parking lot restrooms to the top of Beetle Rock, along the west side of the main parking lot to the Giant Forest Museum.
There are a lot of amazing sights to see and things to do in Sequoia National Park, so you may be tempted if pressed for time to skip the short walk out to Beetle Rock… Don’t do it! The view is amazing and well worth the side trip! Plus, because Giant Forest Museum is maintained year round, the trail is almost always open and passable.
Sunset Rock is a granite dome named for the gorgeous sunsets that visitors can see from atop the dome. The Sunset Rock Trail is a 1.0 mile trail that begins at either the Giant Forest Museum parking area or Big Trees trailhead and passes a small meadow called Eli’s Paradise.
We didn’t have unlimited time, so we skipped the hike to Sunset Rock.
Know Before You Go
- Beetle Rock and Sunset Rock are granite domes in the Giant Forest area of Sequoia National Park. If the road is open, you can drive to Beetle Rock. If it is closed, the walk along the paved trail from Giant Forest Museum or the lower overflow parking lot is super short.
- Beetle Rock Nature Center is not open to the public. It’s a facility run by the Sequoia Parks Conservancy for educational groups that are studying the park.
- There are vault restrooms at the overflow parking lot.
- Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon National Park are basically treated as the same park — even the National Park Service combined both parks into one website.
- The combined area of these two parks is 865,952 acres. Most of it is wilderness back country.
- The parks are open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Occasionally, winter storms will close roads leading into the parks until they can be plowed.
- Admission fees are good for seven days and both parks. They are $35.00/vehicle, $30.00/motorcycle, $20.00/individual entry on foot or bicycle, $15.00/person for a non-commercial group.
- There are five free admission days: the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr., the first day of National Park Week, the National Park Service Birthday, National Public Lands Day, and Veterans Day.
- Weather varies a lot by season and elevation, which ranges from 1,370 feet to 14,494 feet. Bring layers and be prepared!
- Cell service is not available in most areas. You may get service in Grant Grove and at the Foothills Visitor Center. WiFi is available at the Foothills Visitor Center, the Grant Grove Visitor Center, and in the lobby of Wuksachi Lodge.
- Pets are not permitted on any trails at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. In campgrounds and picnic areas, pets must be kept on a leash of no more than six feet at all times.